Texas Kidnapping Victim Was Fatally Shot During FBI Raid Meant to Rescue Him: 'The System Failed'
The criminal complaint alleges two suspects kidnapped Ulises Villadares and his son when Villadares answered his door Wednesday morning
A kidnapped 47-year-old father was shot and killed early Thursday morning in an FBI raid on a Houston, Texas, home where he was being held against his will — allegedly by two men and a woman who demanded thousands in ransom money to spare his life.
A criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE does not directly address the shooting death of Ulises Villadares Thursday morning, and it does not specify what prompted federal agents to open fire as they stormed the Houston residence where he was found duct-taped at the wrists with something covering his head.
But at least one FBI agent who fired has been placed on leave, Houston FBI Public Affairs Officer Christina Garza told reporters during a press conference Thursday.
The criminal complaint alleges two men attacked Ulises Villadares when he answered his door Wednesday morning. The suspects forced their way into his Conroe home, where they allegedly bound him and his 12-year-old son with duct tape.
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The suspects allegedly ransacked the home, taking a number of electronic items, before leaving with Villadares. They allegedly told the boy they left behind not to contact the police, or they’d hurt his dad.
But, according to the complaint, the boy found a pair of scissors and freed himself before running to a neighbor’s home for help.
Police arrived at the scene and the boy described the two men. The child also told investigators he overhead the men telling his father they wanted the $8,000 they claimed his brother owed them.
Detectives located the brother, who told them he had taken a call later that day from a man demanding $20,000 in ransom money, the complaint alleges.
The caller allegedly said if the money was not paid, Villadares would be killed.
The FBI traced the call to the uncle to a Best Western in Webster. There, investigators detained Nicholas Cunningham, 42, and Jimmy Sanchez, 38. Both were charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
The criminal complaint alleges Cunningham has family ties to the victim.
Both men allegedly led police to the home in Conroe where Villadares was being held. The raid was launched just before 4 a.m. on Thursday, and yielded the arrest of a third person: 35-year-old Sophia Perez Heath, who is Cunningham’s girlfriend, according to the complaint.
Heath is also charged with aggravated kidnapping. None of the three defendants has entered pleas to the charges against them, and it was unclear if any had retained legal counsel who could comment on their behalf.
Bail amounts were also unknown, but jail records confirm all three suspects remain in custody.
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“The system failed,” Conroe Police Chief Philip Dupuis told reporters at a press conference late Thursday. “Whether it was accidental or not, the man is not going home to his family.”
Dupuis said the three suspects could face capital murder charges even though they did not shoot Villadares, as their crime lead to his death.